Category: Journal

Journal Log #4

So I’m back online! With two online games under my belt today, I’m feeling pretty good.

  1. I played against a human AkiraWeiqi (22 kyu). It was a good battle. We both made some careless errors, but man it is different playing against a handicap. I’m so used to taking handicaps/even games that seeing stones on the board was like WHOA! I won by a slight margin, but I’ll have to have someone review it to see if he might have been able to close the gap.

  2. Second game was against the LiberyBot (14 kyu), and that I thought I played relatively well. I lost by 5.5 moku, but I think it was largely due to a huge reading error in one of my larger groups which then resulted in its death. Sigh…. need more practice.
    Okay. So… in terms of my study regimen…. here’s what we’ll be looking at.

  • Life and Death Problem
  • Reading about Go Strategy
  • General Go Problems
  • Play one serious game
  • Replay at least part of a pro game

Let’s see where that takes me. Onwards!

Journal Log #3

Hope everyone has had a restful Labor Day Weekend. Mine has been filled with 21st birthdays and craziness, but it’s time to get back to Go!

So over the last few days I’ve tried to play some games online, but I just can’t bring myself to complete any of them. I end up resigning halfway for some reason. I’m not sure whether it’s just cause I’m just itching to be playing with a real goban and stones, or what…. It’s putting me in a weird funk and I’m not sure what to do. sigh….

Need to do something about this….

Journal Log #2

So I visited the Greater Washington Go Club today. Man… it was definitely a different experience playing with people in person. I met a lot of great people, and my cousin and I learned a whole ton through their helpful comments and lessons. We spent a lot of time playing out various positions based on the 3-3 point invasion on the 4-4 star, and that was super helpful.

In addition to having a couple games commented on, I also experienced my first full game between two dan level players. That was awesome. And it reminds me of how much work I have to do before I can even be considered an average player. So it’s time I get back to my studies.

Shout outs go out to Hal, Betsy, and Justin for helping out. I’m sorry but I’m totally blanking out on three other names, but thanks for making the experience an awesome one.

Journal Log #1

Sorry it took so long everyone, but I will now start adding my own anecdotes on my journey. As you all may have seen, I’ve been busy writing various reviews and reading as fast as I possibly can while still maintaining my life.

The time has come… all the beginning quests have been completed… and it is time to leave the home village where I have spent my beginnings. Let us overview my stats.

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It's About to Go Crazy

Starting tomorrow, my life shall be a whirlwind: graduate school is starting, job hunting will become intensified, and my Go training will persevere! In conjunction with what my life will be, the posts from this point on will most likely not follow any chronological order. If I find any time to finish and polish any reviews, they will be flying up on the go. I’ll also be starting up weekly and monthly progress reports so that you can see how I’m doing as a player as well. So look out world cause here we go!

My First Steps

As someone who had no background of the game (and I mean NO background since none of my family members even knew how to play the game), the first step I would have to take was to figure out the best way to learn the game.

For those who are also starting out, here are the pros and cons for your main options:

#1. Tutors/Online Go Schools

  • Pros: One of the fastest ways to learn since it’s interactive and since tutors are generally high level you will (hopefully) rise in level quickly due to their insight and guidance.
  • Cons: Tutors are expensive for trying to just learn the rules and basics.
    #2. Friends and/or Go Clubs

  • Pros: Like the tutor, one of the faster and funner ways to learn as well due to it being interactive.

  • Cons: There have to be clubs you are able to go to in your area that also match with your schedule. And well… you have to have friends that play Go in order to learn from friends.
    #3. Books, Websites, and Software

  • Pros: You can move at your own pace without scheduling conflicts.

  • Cons: It can be difficult and confusing to decide what books to buy and the best way to maximize your efforts. Also, it costs money for books and software (for the most part).
    So, if you are anything like I was (with no friends who played Go or money to hire a tutor), you are most likely looking at curtain number 3! First off, I did a lot of research and bought a couple of books in hopes of learning tons of information. After my initial venture, I’m going to start by telling you NOT to buy any books just yet. Over the next few posts, I’ll be reviewing and clarifying a lot of the books, websites and software out there that might lure brand new Go players.

For now, head to The Interactive Way to Go (English) to get started on how to learn Go for FREE!


To begin, I think every story deserves an introduction as to how it all began.

As a child, I have always been fascinated with the yin-yang symbol and the concepts it embodied. As one may predict, any pattern that even slightly resembled the yin-yang would peak my interest (even the basic color combination of black and white). Anyhow, one day (like many others), I came across the widely acclaimed Go manga known as Hikaru no Go.

The funny thing is that the main thing that caught my eye about this series was the fact that the protagonist seemed to have a black and white hair combination (aka yin-yang reminder). Anyone who has watched the actual anime (or looked at the image above) will know that Hikaru (the protagonist) actually has blonde and black hair (and that I’m an idiot because all manga’s are drawn in black and white….).

Regardless, the manga definitely sparked my interest in Go. Even though my brother (who coincidentally at this time started taking the Go culture class at Chinese School) and I attempted to start learning the game at this time, it wouldn’t be until after I entered and graduated college to begin taking another look into it.

It wasn’t until just a month ago when I was watching Criminal Minds (Season 1: Episode - Extreme Aggressor) and saw the linked clip:

For those unaware of my background, anything to do with psychology or philosophy will definitely enter the realm of my intellectual interests. After watching this scene, I decided to look back into one of the few games which has held its original nature for all the years it has been in existence. From that point on, my quest begins.


Welcome to BenGoZen! As you might’ve read in the description, this blog is for anyone looking for some personalized Go experience and advice. In case some of you haven’t had the pleasure of reading ChiyoDad’s blog, he has about three years of blogging logged in. Even though he has some great information, I thought I’d take to a blog with a more personal touch and hopefully more guidance for those who are new to the game or are looking to improve.

So in case you are wondering how the blog got its name, it’s quite simple.

Ben - My name

Go - The name of the game and a pun on the verb as well.

  • Zen - The calming state I get when playing the game.

= BenGoZen!

In addition, it’s also three mono-syllabic words strung together with a rhyme which I thought would be catchy. (Hopefully I won’t be the only one)

As the blog posts fill up, be sure to use the search box if you are searching for something specific. I’ll keep the titles simple so that you’ll hopefully find what you’re looking for without much difficulty. (e.g. If you want book reviews, type “book reviews”)

In addition, any links that I post up on the sidebars are sites that I personally have verified and believe to be useful or reliable. This is particularly directed at the “Places to Buy Go Stuff” list since I wouldn’t want you purchasing from anywhere that I had no experience with. Also, the links and blogs will be exclusively English for now since I assume a number of players reading my blog won’t know Japanese of Chinese. If there is a demand for it, let me know and I’ll start posting those blogs too.

Sorry for the long introduction, but I hope it gets you a better idea of what BenGoZen is all about and how to best use it for your Go needs.